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Devon UK Salmon River has fish kill

The Environmental Agency is investigating after more than 400 dead fish were recovered from the water

More than 400 dead fish have been recovered from a stream in Devon after slurry was leaked into the water.

More than 100,000 liters of slurry were poured into the Southleigh Stream, a tributary of the River Coly, over the weekend according to reports.


A local farmer reported the loss of the slurry from a storage tank – which led the Environment Agency to launch an investigation to assess how slurry entered Southleigh Stream from a large store in the area.

Reports say the farmer dug a ditch in a bid to reduce the flow of the slurry to the stream once he knew of the leak.

‘Fish kill assessment’

“The Umborne Brook joins the River Coly at Colyton which will help dilute any pollution,” the Environment Agency told the Midweek Herald.

“Officers have returned today to carry out a fish kill assessment and consider any further remedial measures.”

“Our officers have recovered more than 400 dead fish, including brown trout, salmon fry, bullheads, stone loach, minnows and lamprey, and are now looking at the impact on the watercourse’s invertebrates.

“Any future action will be informed by the outcome of our investigation.”

‘Especially concerning’

Ed Parr Ferris, Devon Wildlife Trust conservation manager, added that the incident was ‘especially concerning’ as it is the second major pollution incident on the river in two years, which he said ’emphasises the need for stronger regulation, alongside advisory support for farming businesses to manage and protect our amazing river wildlife’.

“This incident has occurred on a section of river, the River Coly, already classed as in poor condition by the Environment Agency due primarily to agricultural pollution,” said Parr Ferris.

“The EA has been focusing attention on agricultural pollution on the River Axe, of which the River Coly is a tributary, due to the failing status of this important river.”

Special Area of Conservation

He added that the Axe is ‘recognized internationally as a Special Area of Conservation’ for its plants, invertebrates’ and populations of important fish.

These include Atlantic salmon, bullhead, brook lamprey, and sea lamprey.

“Devon Wildlife Trust is working closely with the Environment Agency and other organizations to better protect and enhance the wildlife and environment in the Axe catchment,” he said.